- August 20, 2009
Kung Fu and Stuff
Thanks to the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) and Ultimate Knuckle-dragger Championship, Marines are enamored with grappling. This is fine as I generally endorse any activity that is tough and physically demanding.
Now I could really care less about grappling. I have some familiarity with it having trained with ju–jitsu types before and as a MCMAP instructor myself. According to the Marine Corps, the purpose of grappling techniques is to allow you to get back to your feet to gain the tactical advantage over your opponent. The tactical advantage is you get to put the boots to the guy on the deck. May I add that kicking people while they are down is a perfectly legitimate and honorable technique designed to achieve victory on the battlefield.
Of course the whole problem with having a reputation is that there is always some youngster who wants to test his skills. Usually I hear the challenge in this form:
“You wanna grapple 1stSgt?”
“1stSgt, I’d like to roll with you some time.”
In a culture where physical capability is a measure of credibility this kind of thing has to be dealt with convincingly. My battalion commander usually gives me disapproving looks if I grab a Marine by his throat and crotch and hurl him through the windshield of the nearest HMMV. So my responses tend to be less physically violent. Quite frankly, there are a number of Marines in the battalion that could wipe the floor with me on the mat or in the ring. This would have to do with the fact that combative sports and combative killing are two wildly divergent events.
As coolly as I can I explain to the eager volunteer that as America’s 1stSgt I can lose, but I may not lose. Thus I will do those things that it takes to achieve victory on the mat and will only entertain “grappling” if the Marine is willing to endure what I am ready to do to him. Much like Ric Flair, I have to be the dirtiest player in the game.
They are usually convinced when I am conducting weapons training of some kind and we are cleaning each other’s clocks.
Now as far as I’m concerned weapons use is where it’s at. When’s the last time you ever heard of a caveman putting a saber-tooth cat in a wrist lock? In my files you can find America’s 1stSgt’s thoughts on alligator wrestling under the heading: STUPID. Greek hoplites did not engage the Persians on a wrestling mat. They stood shoulder to shoulder thrusting spears into the enemy and ground Xerxes’ army into the mud. I am completely on board with that scenario.
In any given one on one engagement scenario you have a 33% chance of survival. Either the other guy is better than you are; so you die. You are better than he is; he dies (my preference). Or you are equally skilled and you both die. So how do I maximize my 33%? I pick up a brick and get to work. It’s all about mindset and what you are trying to accomplish.
I get comments about the look on my face in photos like these. Some want to know where that intensity comes from. It comes from the fact that in my mind I am thinking about killing someone. The exercises we are using here are more about what your brain is doing than what your body is. Bayonets, knives, e-tools, firearms, it’s really all the same thing.Of course, training Marines doesn’t mean I always get the best of it at their expense…